A last-minute addition to Carrboro's town meeting agenda Tuesday night spoke volumes to Hispanic residents, a local advocate said.
The board unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the separation of children from their families when they illegally cross the southern U.S. border.
Eliazar Posada, community engagement and advocacy manager for El Centro Hispano, brought the resolution to the board. He is from the part of south Texas where federal immigration enforcement has changed.
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"Growing up in the valley where this is going on, it makes me sad," Posada said.
Alderwoman Randee Haven-O'Donnell presented the resolution to the board.
"It's so egregious and frightfully abhorrent," she said. "We've had a long-standing commitment to being a welcoming and inclusive community. Our community has been greatly enhanced by the immigrants living here."
While the resolution carries no enforceable authority, Posada said passing it was important to Hispanic people in Orange County.
"This resolution really tells our community that you are here for us," Posada said. "When our community is attacked, Carrboro is there for us."
About 1 in 5 Carrboro residents is an immigrant.
Posada said there is a growing concern among Hispanics since the federal policy changed. It didn't take long for word to make its way from Texas to Carrboro.
"One thing in our community is any kind of news spreads like wildfire," Posada said. "Since the decision was announced back in April, I've started getting calls was like, 'What does this mean?' Folks are just like nervous and just scared."
The resolution urged Congressman David Price, a Chapel Hill Democrat, to sponsor legislation to end the family separations.
Price signed on as a cosponsor of the Keep Families Together Act (H.R. 6135) introduced Tuesday to permanently end the Trump policy of separating migrant families at our nation’s border. He is also a cosponsor of House Resolution 927, which correctly condemns this policy as a form of child abuse, as well as the HELP Separated Children Act (HR 5950), which provides these children with protections and establishes humane protocols for DHS officers interacting with these children.
“The Trump Administration's policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at our nation's border is a cruel and deliberate practice designed to sow fear and panic in migrant communities," Price said. "No matter your political affiliation, we can all agree that we should not subject children and parents to the trauma of being separated. Trump’s 'zero-tolerance' policy is an affront to the values we hold as Americans, and we must do everything we can to put an end to it immediately.”
It has been reported that more than 2,000 children have been separated from their families since April, according to the Department of Homeland Security. At that time, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that all instances of illegal entry would be referred for criminal prosecution — part of a “zero tolerance” policy favored by President Donald Trump's administration. The first pictures of the children being held in cages emerged this week.
The resolution came together quickly, and there were even last-minute amendments as the situation on the border has evolved.
One of the changes made was from urging Gov. Roy Cooper to pull back North Carolina National Guardsmen from assisting on the southern border to congratulating him. Cooper recalled the three members of the National Guard who had been deployed on a 120-day mission that started June 1, said N.C. National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Matthew Devivo. Governors from at least eight states are recalling their National Guard troops.
Copies of the resolution also will be sent to the mayors and councils in Chapel Hill and Durham.